Grandpa Sergio Remembers – Part Two

The conversations that my dad had with his partners in the kitchen, which served as a place for a little of everything, where there were always loaves of bread and an inevitable bottle of wine, were primarily on the theme of work that needed to be done, but would slip like clockwork to episodes from the war that had just ended, which had involved all of the families in a tragic way. Partisans, Republicans, Fascists, Nazis, Germans, survivors from Albania, from Russia, from Greece. One spoke of deaths, executions, reprisals.

During the holidays one participated in the great pantalera handball contests. The young and not-so-young arrived from the farms of Sinio, Serralunga d’Alba, Roddino, Diano, Rodello and Monforte. It all ended with lots of food, lots of drink, and popular songs.

One mustn’t forget that at the time the most primary thing was eating and drinking. The peasants would always repeat, “fortunate is he who goes to bed with a full stomach, because with an empty stomach one can’t sleep and if one doesn’t sleep, one’s thoughts turn to the wrongs of the war.”

In the month of July tens of peasants would flow to our farm for the reaping and the threshing of grain and corn, continuing up to the autumn grape harvest. The work was brightened with plates of salami, toma [a Piedmont cheese], rabbit, chicken cacciatore, steaming hot boiled meats, and salads and sauces, washed down with wine stored for these occasions. And not any of it was purchased: it was all made on the farm.